It is a cause, DiPaula says, that transcends partisan politics — and for him is personal.
“The current governor and I don’t agree on a whole lot of other issues, but you know what? That’s beside the point for me,” said DiPaula, who talked openly for the first time in a media interview about being gay. “I’m involved to make our lives better.”
DiPaula is not on the cusp of marrying anyone himself but said he greatly respects the institution, and he has officiated at the weddings of a few straight friends and family members.
“I would like to be able to experience that joy in my life,” he said.
DiPaula, 50, who served as Ehrlich’s budget secretary and chief of staff after running his 2002 campaign, is part of a group of advisers that is plotting strategy for the same-sex marriage referendum on the November ballot. He has been involved in fundraising efforts as well, co-hosting an event last week in the District with O’Malley and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).
DiPaula’s decision to join an effort dominated by Democrats not only speaks to his pragmatism, friends say. It also underscores a reality of the campaign not often discussed: Winning will require Republican votes.
Recent polling has shown proponents of Question 6 with a lead, but one modest enough that support from Democrats alone will probably not carry them across the finish line next month. The campaign entered a new phase this week, with opponents airing the first television ads arguing that “no one is entitled to redefine marriage.”
DiPaula and other Republicans onboard in Maryland — including Ken Mehlman, a former Republican National Committee chairman — counter that same-sex marriage is consistent with GOP principles of individual liberty and strengthening families. But that is not the prevailing view among party luminaries, including Ehrlich, who has been outspoken in his opposition.
“One redefinition will most assuredly beget additional redefinitions: Why not a civil right to more than one spouse?” Ehrlich, who now pens a column for the Baltimore Sun, wrote in April. “Where does one draw the line once the traditional threshold is crossed?”
DiPaula said he considers Ehrlich a friend but was let down by the column, as he was on a couple of occasions during his tenure as governor.
“I continue to hope that he can continue to evolve on the issue,” DiPaula said during an interview over lunch in Annapolis, where he works as an executive at a global marketing company. “The denial of that right makes for two tiers of society, and it means that government says we have two classes of people.”